Canterbury Bulldogs release Raymond Faitala-Mariner to join St George Illawarra Dragons

The Bulldogs have confirmed they’ve released former captain Raymond Faitala-Mariner to the Dragons.

Faitala-Mariner had two years remaining on his contract worth a reported $800,000 but the Bulldogs told him in November he wasn’t required to attend pre-season training and was free to negotiate with rival clubs.

The 30-year-old eventually returned to training at Belmore after he had crisis talks with coach Cameron Ciraldo and Canterbury general manager Phil Gould.

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But the Bulldogs confirmed on Monday afternoon he’s been granted an immediate release to join Shane Flanagan’s Dragons.

“Raymond Faitala-Mariner has been granted an immediate release from his contract with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs,” the club statement read.

“The club has agreed to terms with Faitala-Mariner, granting the release so he can take up an opportunity at another NRL club.

“Faitala-Mariner has been a positive contributor to the Bulldogs both on and off the field. He has run out for the Club on 102 occasions and the Bulldogs would like to thank him for his hard work and commitment during his time at Belmore.

“The club wishes him, and his family, all the best for the future.”

Bulldogs football boss Phil Gould said on Twitter on Monday night the club still has spots available before its final 30-man squad is finalised for 2024.

The Dragons followed the Bulldogs’ announcement by confirming Faitala-Mariner has signed a two-year deal until the end of 2025.

He joins the Red V effective immediately, bringing 114 games of first-grade experience across 10 seasons at the Warriors and Bulldogs as well as four Test appearances for Samoa and New Zealand.

“Raymond is a veteran first-grader who will add some experience and grit to our forward pack,” Dragons coach Shane Flanagan said.

“His ability to play both on an edge and in the middle, as well as the guidance he can provide our emerging forwards, will benefit our entire squad.

“We’re excited to welcome him to training this week as we continue our preparation for the 2024 season.”

Originally published as Bulldogs ex-captain released immediately to join rival NRL club